Suspensions in baseball are nothing new. They happen at every level, from the upper Little League realms to the big leagues. They also happen for almost every reason imaginable, from throwing at a batter, to using an illegal bat to -- occasionally -- a tense collision at the plate. Yet those suspensions rarely have the immediate consequences as the ones that were handed down to two South Carolina high school teams on April 13 and 14.
According to the Spartanburg Herald-Journal and Associated Press, a total of 23 players from Dorman (S.C.) High and Boiling Springs (S.C.) High were suspended for two games, with one Dorman player forced to sit out one game following a melee in the teams' faceoff on April 8. The fracas started with a collision at the plate, expanded when the benches cleared and eventually became a full-on brawl between the two teams.
After reviewing the incident from the game, the South Carolina High School League decided to ban 14 Boiling Springs players for two games, with eight Dorman players forced to sit out two games and one player suspended for a single game.
While those suspensions might not seem overly harsh, the timing of when they were handed down put a significant strain on the Boiling Springs program. By the time the Bulldogs received word of the SCHSL suspensions for 11 of its 14 affected players, they only had two games remaining in their season. With so many players forced to sit out the rest of the season, the program barely has enough remaining players to field a team for its final two matchups.
Amazingly, those suspensions might not be the end of the punishment facing the players involved in the brawl, either. Both schools' athletic directors told the Herald-Journal that the players could still face additional punishment from the league at a future date.
That statement has already proven prophetic once, with the SCHSL banning eight additional players a day after initial suspensions were handed to 14 athletes. The additional players were given bans after the SCHSL viewed a video of the collision at the plate and the mayhem that followed.
Despite the broad ramifications on both programs from their game, the incident that precipitated the suspensions was hardly extraordinary. The Herald-Journal reported that the collision came in the bottom of the fifth inning, when Boiling Springs runner Tyler Huntley -- being restrained by a teammate in the photo above -- was thrown out at the plate while trying to score from second base. Huntley collided with Dorman catcher Tyler Crocker in a bang-bang play at the plate, leading both benches to rush onto the field in support of their teammates, though it's not apparent that any direct punches were thrown.
Had this happened in the major leagues, few -- if any -- of the players who charged out of their dugouts would have been suspended. Instead, 11 of the high school players involved won't play again in 2011, thanks to what is effectively a season-ending suspension for overzealously defending their teammate.